Smooth operator: the new Ford Mondeo

It feels as though Ford has evolved, rather than making a radical jump

Price: From £24,245
Engine capacity: 2.0-litre diesel
Power output (bhp @rpm): 178 @ 3,500
Top speed (mph): 140
Fuel economy (mpg): 69.9
CO₂ emissions (g/kg): 115

It's taken an awfully long time, but the all-new Ford Mondeo is finally here. It's been available in the United States for some time (as the Ford Fusion), but recently I finally found myself in a new Mondeo.

And it's very nice, too, with slick lines, a much improved infotainment system, neat handling and a vast array of family-friendly safety equipment, including inflatable rear seat belts, which act as airbags for passengers in the event of an accident. And in the right light, its front grille even makes it look slightly similar in design to an Aston Martin (a company previously owned by Ford).

Ford also used to own Jaguar and Land Rover, but sold them off too to concentrate on the company's One World policy of creating a line-up of cars that can be sold across the world with minimum regional alteration. There have been some minor changes for European roads, but this is essentially the same car that the firm sells in the States.

All of this means, I thought, as I motored down to the Isle of Grain for a post-election ramble, that the fabled Mondeo Man (a phrase coined during Tony Blair's 1997 general election campaign) has become a global citizen.

My Titanium top-spec model came with more kit than before – has Mondeo Man become more demanding? – with a touch-screen navigation system, heated seats and a lane-departure warning system to keep you on track. It has a more luxurious feel to it – up there in terms of quality with the excellent new VW Passat (to be reviewed here in a few weeks time). On the road, the efficient 2.0-litre diesel I tested was a strong performer, too (a low emissions version is due shortly) and the Mondeo flows smoothly into the bends in a way that's almost unbecoming for a machine of its size.

It's an excellent car, but it feels as though Ford has evolved, rather than making a radical jump. These days, the streets of Kent are lined with funky Kia crossovers, excellent Hyundai hatchbacks and affordable Skoda estates. It's hard not to think that Ford blew its chance; it's never going to compete as a luxury brand and the young challengers are taking its market. The Mondeo, then, it stuck in the middle.

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